£7.5 billion stolen as Britons fall victim to scammers

A RECENT Global Anti-Scam Alliance survey, conducted in association with Cifas, paints an unsettling picture of the current state of scams in the UK, highlighting an urgent need for vigilance and preventative action.

The study involves 2,000 British citizens and uncovers startling statistics, indicating that a substantial 10% of Britons have lost money to scams or identity theft in the last 12 months, culminating in financial losses approximated at £7.5 billion.

Some 62% of respondents indicated that they had received scam messages at least once per month, with 53% acknowledging a significant rise in scam encounters over the past year.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas (the UK’s foremost fraud prevention agency), commented: “Scams have now reached an unprecedented level, with criminals and career fraudsters constantly looking for new opportunities to scam UK citizens and cause significant distress to victims. In 2022, Cifas members recorded over 409,000 cases of fraudulent conduct to our National Fraud Database as criminals took advantage of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis to steal identities and take control of customer accounts.”

Haley continued: “UK consumers continue to find themselves increasingly targeted by phishing and smishing campaigns offering financial help or investment opportunities, employment scams, fake adverts for rental properties as well as purchase and delivery scams. Now more than ever, we need to ensure there is more effective regulation of online platforms and recognise the serious harm that their fraudulent content is causing to consumers.”

Deceptive practices

As digital portals become the hotbeds for deceptive practices, e-mail platforms like Gmail and Outlook are used to facilitate fraud, with 64% of participants receiving scam messages through these services. Meanwhile, scam attempts through phone channels are reported by 56% of the survey participants.

The breadth of scammers’ activities is reflected in the variety of tactics employed, ranging from phishing to the infamous ‘Advance Fee’ scams, leaving individuals vulnerable to an average of 1.6 scams per victim.

The repercussions of these scams extend beyond financial losses, inflicting emotional and psychological trauma on victims. 46% experienced a ‘strong to traumatic’ emotional impact, often exacerbated by the betrayal of trust and the invasion of privacy.

In response to this unsettling trend, many Britons choose to handle the aftermath privately, with 66% of respondents not reporting the scam to any authority. However, a growing number of victims (ie 31%) are seeking remediation through financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, emphasising the critical role of these entities in addressing and curbing scams.

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“More UK companies failing to tackle cyber security” states Savanti

GLOBAL CYBER attacks increased in volume by 38% in 2022 when compared to 2021, but six in every ten directors suggest that their company is ineffective in understanding the risks. That’s one key finding of ‘Effective Board Governance of Cyber Security: A Source of Competitive Advantage’, the latest report published by Savanti, itself one of the UK’s leading cyber security consultancies.

he report finds that those businesses who are ‘cyber-engaged’ have increased revenue growth, a greater success rate in attracting clients and higher investor confidence.

Increasing numbers of UK businesses are struggling to understand how to combat cyber crime, which puts them at increased risk of cyber attacks resulting in crippling costs such as multi-million pound ransoms, litigation and reputational damage.

In terms of numbers, across all UK businesses, there were 2.4 million instances of cyber crime in the last 12 months. According to Cyber Security Ventures, the cost of cyber crime to business could reach £8.4 trillion annually by 2025. If it was measured as a country, cyber crime would be the world’s third largest economy after the US and China.

Recent high-profile incidents include the cyber attack on The Electoral Commission in which a breach undetected for 14 months resulted in access to voters’ personal data including home addresses, images, e-mail addresses, names and telephone numbers. There were also the cyber attacks on British Airways and Boots.

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BSIA calls for clarification on future role of biometrics and surveillance

THE BRITISH Security Industry Association (BSIA) is calling on the Government to clarity how it intends to “fill the void” created by the recent resignation of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the proposed abolition of the Office of the Commissioner at the Home Office.

Professor Fraser Sampson, the current Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, will remain in post until the end of October before the functions of the role are expected to be subsumed by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner as part of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which is proceeding through Parliament. As currently written, the Bill removes the need for the Government to publish a Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

For its part, the BSIA has worked closely with the Office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner since its formation in 2014. Tony Porter QPM, the inaugural Surveillance Camera Commissioner, welcomed the opportunity of engagement from the BSIA.

Indeed, the Trade Association went on to lead two of the key industry strands of work around the National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales. In this capacity, the BSIA engaged with other stakeholders to create several foundation documents, including the list of key recommended standards for use in video surveillance systems, a buyers’ toolkit, the passport to compliance and also a ‘Secure by Default’ self-certification scheme aimed squarely at manufacturers.

A great deal of this work is set to be ‘archived’ when the Office of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner is closed. It’s also unclear as to how the transfer of the functions of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner will be carried out in practice and whether or not engagement with industry practitioners will even be a consideration.

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